At any given time during the course of each year, thousands of individuals in the U.S. fall victim to some type of natural disaster. Fires, flash floods, hurricanes, twisters, and earthquakes often leave devastation in their wake. Experts believe that making preparations before disaster strikes can significantly reduce their impact in most cases.
Assessing Your Risk
The first step to a successful prep is risk assessment. Determining where and how your home is most vulnerable can help you decide where to begin reinforcing the structure of your home. FEMA offers a wealth of information on risk analysis according to region.
FEMA categorizes regions according to what types of natural disasters the area is most vulnerable to. For example, Missouri is categorized as region 7, which is especially prone to floods caused by tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. If your area is susceptible to flooding and you are located in the Midwest, you may want to have your home checked by a St. Louis foundation repair specialist.
What may now appear like a minor crack in a crawlspace or basement can splinter due to pressure caused by excessive ground water, essentially causing major flooding within your home. Be sure to have any cracks and fissures, no matter how small, sealed by a professional.
Areas on the west coast of the U.S. are especially susceptible to wildfires. Damage from both wildfires and storm-related fires can be effectively reduced by using non-combustible materials for your home’s roofing and siding. For example, fire resistant siding materials can include stucco or fiber cement. If you are using wood, make sure it is fire resistant treated.
There are also a few steps you can take to make sure not only your home but also your property is more fire resistant. One quick prep is to only plant fire resistant or fuel-fire resistant shrubs and foliage close to the home. In addition, grass clippings and wood piles should be kept away from the “defensible area” of your home when possible.
Wind can cause an incredible amount of damage and even further flood and fire damage. If you live in areas like New Jersey, Louisiana, Florida, or North Carolina, hurricanes and flash floods are a constant threat. Protecting your home from wind damage could be as simple as installing permanent storm shutters, purchasing roof strapping, and fortifying your garage door.
Earthquakes can strike with little warning, making it essential that you prepare in advance. There are two main preps that can reduce injury and damage caused by earthquakes; namely, structure reinforcement and placement of and securing of objects within your home. Anchoring heavy appliances, having your foundation repaired and reinforced, and taking notes of objects in specific rooms that can fall and cause injury are the most important.
Each year you should review your home owner’s insurance policy with your provider to ensure you have all your bases covered. Dealing with the aftermath of a disaster is most often far worse than the storm itself. Having the right coverage before the storm allows you to get your home repaired with less red-tape hang ups.
Getting back to business as usual after a natural disaster can be extremely difficult, both mentally and physically. Sufficiently preparing your home and insuring your property and belongings can help move along the process of recovery more quickly and help to reduce post-disaster related stress.